On Tuesday, February 6, 2017, the Art Libraries Society of North America released this statement:
The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) believes that lives are enriched by engagement with the visual arts, design, and cultural heritage. As the leading art information organization, the Society strongly opposes the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
In January, articles from The Hill reported that then U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his team were considering the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). During the early part of 2017, the President and his staff will draft a budget that is reportedly based largely on the report A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America prepared by the Republican Study Committee and that recommends the following cuts to the federal budget:
“The federal government should not be in the business of funding the arts. Support for the arts can easily and more properly be found from non-governmental sources. Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts would save taxpayers $148 million per year and eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities would save an additional $148 million per year.” (Pg. 96)
“The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides grants to local museums and libraries, a task that can be better handled by the private sector and local governments. Eliminating the IMLS would save $230 million per year.” (Pg. 97)
Each year, the arts create $135 billion in economic activity, employing over 4 million Americans, and totaling $86 billion in household income. Additionally, funding for arts organizations comprises a tiny fraction of the overall Federal budget (approximately .02 percent). Libraries and museums have a significant impact on the economic, social and cultural environment of communities by promoting life-long learning, creative expression, and access to a wealth of information, programs and services. Numerous institutions where ARLIS/NA members work have been or are currently funded by at least one, if not all three of these federal agencies. Without this funding, the nation’s libraries, museums, and arts and humanities centers cannot provide the critical support needed for research and education.
These proposed budget cuts would cause serious obstructions to creative expression, cultural enrichment, life-long learning, and a threat to the growth of the creative economy. For these reasons, ARLIS/NA opposes the proposed defunding and eradication of the NEA, NEH, and IMLS.